In previous blogs, we have covered two forms of early intervention in PA education – pre-matriculation classes/modules and the Study Skills Development Program. These two interventions will go a long way toward curbing student difficulties by simply introducing the graduate-level skills students need to manage their studies in a rigorous PA program. While highly effective in their own right, these “ounce of prevention” methods are actually a portion of a broader concept: the Student Success Coaching Model.
All PA Programs have an advising structure providing support for students. Each individual program must reflect on whether the remediation process itself is working. Have you applied parametric analysis to student outcomes after they experienced remediation on multiple occasions? If students statistically are not performing as well as their peers, you must consider whether the process is effective.
Once the cohort begins and the didactic year is in session, even well-prepared students with high GPAs might encounter difficulties. Students who have been shown to be at-risk might need more follow-up than a study skills seminar will allow. Outstanding students might still face unexpected stressors or one particularly tough subject. Because this model is focused on facilitating success, all students, regardless of their remediation requirements, are treated with dignity and respect. And ultimately, all students benefit from knowing that your program has their success in mind. No one who is truly willing to work for self-improvement is left to flounder.
Academic problems can show themselves in various ways, most obviously through a failed test or course, or other major test-taking issues, but also in a failure to respond to an advisor’s academic remediation methods. When problems are detected, advisors immediately refer students for remediation measures through a carefully planned documentation process. At that point, the Academic Success Coach takes charge of the student’s progress.
Academic Success Coaches are the touchstone of the model, and those who take on the role must learn educational theory and apply proven practices in student counseling sessions. This requires diligence and logistical thought. Because this work involves a considerable amount of time and energy, Academic Success Coaches should receive workload release for this responsibility.
Introducing a new remediation model to a PA program can seem like a daunting task. However, you can assure reluctant faculty that the Student Success Coaching Model actually saves considerable time for individual faculty members by avoiding duplicating academic mentoring and tutoring services. Students are put on a direct path targeting their specific problems in a constructive way, and the entire system relies on their accountability model and active participation.
For this model to work truly well, all faculty must “buy in” to this method for remediation. Yet even for the faculty most reluctant to reform, the method is not difficult. It requires only minor training to identify problems, consult with students on test self-reviewing, and learn how to kickstart the process, then the willingness to refer students to remediation services when the need arises. Enthusiastic faculty who wish to become more involved are able to contribute significantly to the process by becoming Academic Success Coaches.
The Student Success Coaching Model is not static, but rather, like the students it helps, is in a constant state of improvement. Key elements of this process include training for new faculty regarding student success remediation skills, and annually reviewing the entire program’s remediation process for efficacy, based on analysis of student performance longitudinally. Thus, every cohort moving through your PA program has the benefit not only of excellent remediation resources, but of the experience of the cohorts that came before. There is nowhere to go but up!